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Flashes

All the News That Fits, They Print
Those easternliberalmediaelite have done it again. They come into town with their fancy luggage and black turtlenecks and fat expense accounts, interview a few chamber-of-commerce types, then write some blind-boosterish fluff. The New York Times is the latest offender.

A May 26 Times piece, titled "Sprawling Phoenix Gets a Downtown," tells how nearly $1 billion in development is spawning a renaissance. The piece reports that the Bank One Ballpark will cost $280 million (the actual cost estimate has been $333 million for months). The Times goes on to say of the stadium, "Most of its cost is being shouldered by Maricopa County residents, who in 1994 approved a quarter-cent sales tax capped at $234 million."

That's an egregious error. The Flash wonders what led the "reporter" to believe such a thing.

The Flash rang up the Times, long-distance, and, on behalf of its dozen or so Arizona subscribers, demanded a correction. An editor said he'd have the "reporter" check it out and write a correction. This correction appeared June 2:

"An article on the Real Estate page last Sunday about development in downtown Phoenix misstated the authorization process for the construction of a baseball stadium. The tax was authorized by the Maricopa County legislature, not by a referendum."

The "Maricopa County legislature" wasn't the Times' only apparent fabrication. The May 26 article stated that the new library has been "nicknamed the 'Copper Toaster.'"

The Flash has heard the library described in decidedly Arizona terms--"Book Bunker," "Butt-Ugly Big Ol' Thang," "Da New Lie-berry"--but has never heard the "Copper Toaster" moniker. The Flash suspects our edifice was actually "Knick-named" by the Times' "reporter." In reciprocation, the Flash hereby christens the Empire State Building "The Granite Spatula."

It's all so sad. The Times missed its opportunity to write the truly intriguing and scandalous story--how the future home of the Diamondbanks is the nation's first modern, tax-financed stadium that wasn't approved by a vote of the taxpayers.

Where's Seymour Hersh when you need him?

There's a Political Ad
While Kim Rimsza was busy giving birth to triplets on June 6, hubby Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza's minions were busy executing a splashy announcement.

Kim delivered by prescheduled Caesarean section at 10 a.m. By 11:30, members of the mayor's staff were delivering pots of vincas announcing the arrival of Taylor David, Nicole Catherine and Alexander Gill to 200 city and hospital staffers, friends and members of the press.

(The Flash's flowers must've gotten lost in the excitement.)
"It's like somebody was poised in the truck with the flowers, waiting to leave before [the babies] were born," says a vinca recipient who recalls receiving a similar gift during Rimsza's mayoral campaign.

Phil Gordon, Rimsza's chief of staff, says this time Rimsza--not his campaign--paid for the plants and accompanying cards.

The mayor's staff provided the labor "on off time," Gordon adds.
In the middle of the day?
"Everybody here--looking you in the eye--works more than an eight-hour day," Gordon says.

And The Flash--looking you right back--will have quadruplets next week.

Two's a Howl
Keepers at Phoenix Zoo are howling over a pair of Mexican gray wolf pups, born May 9, that bring the captive population of the endangered species to 140.

To keep the pups as wild as possible, zookeepers have kept their distance. They knew the pups had been born because they could hear puppy sounds over a microphone installed in the wolf den. But they weren't sure how many pups there were until last Sunday morning, June 9, when they showed their faces for the first time.

"We saw two and they look to weigh about ten pounds each," says zoo spokesperson Alice Sluga.

The new pups, the first for Phoenix Zoo, will become part of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But whether they will actually be released in the wild or kept in a zoo to breed depends on whether Fish and Wildlife can ever come to agreement on a wolf release site with Arizona and New Mexico politicos.

Fife: A Cyber-Deadbeat
Governor J. Fife Symington III has merged onto the Information SuperEsplanade. The official Symington World Wide Web page, not to be confused with the newtimes.com unofficial gubernatorial Web site (J. Fife Symington: Countdown to Indictment), represents an electronic-age first: As far as we know, no other governor who is simultaneously in Chapter 7 bankruptcy and being investigated by a grand jury has a Web page.

Alas, when we visit Fife online, we're forced to read between the lines: In the Fifester's official Web page biography, we learn he "has recognized the need for excellence in government. He initiated Project SLIM to produce top-quality service in a streamlined state government." Apparently reluctant to draw showy attention to himself, a circumspect Fife has neglected to mention that Project SLIM so streamlined state government as to make obsolete the inefficient, decidedly unaerodynamic process of awarding state contracts competitively. And nowhere on the site do Fife or his PR people mention the aides--George Leckie and John Yeoman--who were indicted for streamlining the bidding process in favor of Symington's personal accounting firm, Coopers & Lybrand.

Fife's biography reveals that he enjoys "skiing and fly fishing" and "is certified as an advanced open-water diver." No mention, however, is made that the Fifester's advanced open-water diving equipment was recently auctioned off (to the highest competitive bidder--himself) by the bankruptcy court.

Arpaio's Clueless PR Machine
Used to an adoring press, the ministers of information at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office weren't ready for the onslaught of tough questions following the death of inmate Scott Norberg, and it showed.

Public information officer John Kleinheinz was hung out to dry by KNXV-TV Channel 15, which showed him insisting that no stun gun had been used on Norberg: "They told me from the very beginning that it was only hands-on force, that there was never anything as far as any type of choke hold or any type of electronic device used to try to subdue this individual," Kleinheinz said. But the Sheriff's Office later admitted that detention officers had used a stun gun as well as a towel and restraining straps on Norberg--all after he'd already been handcuffed.

Lieutenant Tim Campbell, another Arpaio mouthpiece, says that Kleinheinz was simply given bad information by detention officers who didn't think the use of the stun gun was worth mentioning. Later, Campbell says, Kleinheinz asked the officers if a stun gun had been used, and they replied: "Yeah, it was used. Did we forget to tell you that?"

In a press conference, Sheriff Arpaio announced that Norberg had been hit twice by a stun gun, which is the limit recommended by the gun's manufacturer. But the Norberg family attorney, who commissioned an independent autopsy, alleges the gun may have been used up to 15 times.


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